Santa Clara, CA: Samsung is facing a proposed privacy class action lawsuit over allegations its Smart TV devices enable the company to record consumers’ private conversations without their knowledge.
According to the complaint, filed by Joshua Siegel, the Samsung Smart TV devices are equipped with the capability to respond to human voices through a built-in “always on” recording device, and that enables the company to intercept and record consumers’ private communications inside their homes for profit, in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
The Smart TVs are made by Samsung Electronics America Inc. and its Korean parent company Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The suit states that the electronic companies have failed to safeguard the capabilities of the devices, resulting in third parties like the CIA being able to remotely hack into the devices and turn them into hidden spying systems. The suit asserts that this information was disclosed by WikiLeaks in its most recent set of released documents purporting to reveal the full capability of the CIA’s hacking.
“While Samsung has marketed the convenience of its voice-recognition capable Smart TV, it has negligently and/or recklessly failed to consider or properly address the privacy consequences of its Smart TV’s configuration, specifically its susceptibility to hacking of private consumer information,” the suit states.
“Consumers have no reason to expect that defendants engaged in second-by-second tracking and recording by surreptitiously recording content and sending it back to their own servers and then transmitting that information to third parties,” the suit contends. “Further, defendants’ representations were not sufficiently clear or prominent to alert consumers to their practices related to defendants’ recording of consumers’ private recordings in their home.”
Samsung’s actions “are an unconscionable commercial practice” that violate New Jersey’s consumer protection law, Siegal asserts. Siegal is seeking injunctive relief and compensation for damages caused by Samsung’s deceptive and misleading practice and is looking to represent anyone in the U.S. who purchased or leased a Samsung Smart TV since January 2012, according to the complaint.
Siegel is represented by Michael E. Berman of Berman Class Law. The case is Joshua Siegel v. Samsung Electronics America Inc. et al., in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Case number was not immediately available.